Emmanuel Nwude

Emmanuel Nwude Odinigwe popularly known as Owelle of Abagana[1] is a Nigerian advance-fee fraud expert artist and former Director of Union Bank of Nigeria.[2] He is known for defrauding Nelson Sakaguchi, a Director at Brazil's Banco Noroeste based in São Paulo,[3] of $242 million: $191 million in cash and the remainder in the form of outstanding interest,[4] between 1995 and 1998.[5] His accomplices were Emmanuel Ofolue, Nzeribe Okoli, and Obum Osakwe, along with the husband and wife duo, Christian Ikechukwu Anajemba and Amaka Anajemba, with Christian later being assassinated.[4][6][7]

Emmanuel Nwude
Emmanuel Tom Odinigwe

OccupationFormer Director of the Union Bank of Nigeria
Known forDefrauding $242 million out of Banco Noroeste and alleged attack on the Nigerian town of Ukpo, Anambra State.
Criminal statusReleased in fraud case, but currently in custody on murder charges
Criminal penalty25 years for fraud case
Partner(s)Emmanuel Ofolue, Nzeribe Okoli, Obum Osakwe, Christian Ikechukwu Anajemba and Amaka Anajemba

After Nick Leeson's trading losses at Barings Bank, and the looting of the Iraqi Central Bank by Qusay Hussein, the crime was the third largest in banking history.[8] After a large-scale attack on a town in Nigeria in August 2016, Nwude was alleged to be a ringleader and was arrested on murder charges.[9] He was later released.


Nwude impersonated Paul Ogwuma, then Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria,[10] and successfully convinced Sakaguchi, a then director at Brazil's Banco Noroeste, to "invest" in a new airport in the nation's capital, Abuja, in exchange for a $10 million commission.[5] In August 1997, the Spanish Banco Santander wanted to take over the Banco Noroeste Brazil. The fraud was uncovered after a December 1997 joint board meeting, in which an official from Santander inquired about why a large sum of money, two-fifths of Noroeste's total value and half of their capital, was sitting in the Cayman Islands unmonitored.[4]

This led to criminal investigations in Brazil, Britain, Nigeria, Switzerland, and the United States.[5] To guarantee the sale to Santander, the Simonsen and Cochrane families, the owners of Banco Noroeste, paid the $242 million bill themselves. However, Banco Noroeste collapsed in 2001.[11]

As for Nelson Sakaguchi, he was later arrested at New York's John F. Kennedy airport and dispatched to Switzerland, to stand trial on charges relating to setting up bank accounts there as part of the fraud.[12]

Aftermath and trialEdit

At the request of former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was created by the Nigerian Parliament in 2002.[13] In February 2004, Amaka Anajemba, Emmanuel Nwude, Emmanuel Ofolue, Nzeribe Okoli, and Obum Osakwe (Christian Anajemba was deceased at this point), were all arrested and charged in the Abuja High Court with 86 counts of "fraudulently seeking advance fees" and 15 counts of bribery related to the case.[11][14] They pleaded not guilty. They were immediately warned off of bribing the court staff by Abuja High Court Judge Lawal Gumi, after he alleged that money was going around.[11]

The defense team assured that "nothing would be done to bring scandal to the administration of justice."[11] Four Nigerian companies, Fynbaz, Emrus, Ocean Marketing and the African Shelter Bureau also faced charges and pleaded not guilty.[14] In July 2004, Judge Lawal Gumi threw out the case, claiming that since the crime did not take place in Abuja, he had no jurisdiction, and said that the proper place for the case would be the Lagos High Court.[15]

The defendants were immediately rearrested after stepping outside the courthouse and the case was moved to Lagos.[15] In 2005, Nwude attempted to bribe Nuhu Ribadu, then head of the commission, with $75,000 cash. He was charged in connection with the attempted bribery in addition to the attempted kidnapping of a prosecution witness.[16][17] In July 2005, Amaka Anajemba admitted to helping Anajemba and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and ordered to repay $25.5 million.[18][19]

During Nwude's trial, there was a bomb scare that caused the courthouse to be evacuated.[20] Emmanuel Nwude and Nzeribe Okoli pleaded guilty after testimony from Sakaguchi in hopes of a more lenient sentence,[16] and were sentenced to 29 years in prison collectively, with Nwude receiving five consecutive sentences of five years, totaling 25, and Okoli receiving four.[21][22] The entirety of Nwude's assets were confiscated to be returned to the victim and a $10 million fine was imposed to be paid to the Nigerian federal government.[16] It was the first major conviction for the EFCC.[23] He was released from prison in 2006.[24][25]

Nwude filed a lawsuit to recover his seized assets after he was released from prison, on the grounds that some of the assets were acquired before the offense was committed.[26] He has already reclaimed at least $52 Million.[25] As of May 8, 2015, the matter is being heard by the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal.[26]


On August 19, 2016, the town of Ukpo in the Dunukofia area was attacked by over 200 people, apparently due to a land dispute with the neighboring Abagana community. Four policemen were shot, and Emmanuel Okafor, a security guard at a construction site, was killed.[27] The Anambra State Police Command alleged that Emmanuel Nwude was a ringleader, and arrested him on 27 charges including murder, attempted murder, and terrorist attacks.[27][28] He was being held at Awka Prison in Anambra State,[29][9] but was released on bail on December 8, 2016.[30]

He is the president-general of Ugbene town union.[31]

On Thursday 25 February 2021, Emmanuel Nwude, while testifying before Justice Mojisola Dada of the Ikeja Special Offences Court, denied knowing the source of the $242m that was transferred into his account. Mr. Nwude, after serving part of his 25 year jail term, is back in court alongside two lawyers – Emmanuel Ilechukwu and Roland Kalu.

All three face a 15-count charge of forging the documents of a property Justice Oyewole had earlier ordered Mr. Nwude to forfeit to his victims. The property is located at Plot Y, Mobolaji Johnson street, Oregun Alausa, Ikeja, Nigeria. Justice Mojisola Dada adjourned the case until 24 May 2021, for continuation of trial.[32]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Pulse.Ng (3 October 2017). "How Emmanuel Nwude sold an imaginary airport for 242 million dollars". Pulse.Ng. Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  2. ^ "Richest Crooks". Archived from the original on 2013-11-05. Retrieved 2013-11-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  3. ^ "Central Bank of Nigeria Website. > Cases". Cenbank.org. 2002-01-28. Retrieved 2011-12-15.
  4. ^ a b c Glenny, Misha (May 2008). McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld - Misha Glenny - Google Books. ISBN 9780887848650. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
  5. ^ a b c "Africa | Bank scam trial opens in Nigeria". BBC News. 2004-02-05. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
  6. ^ "Africa | Nigerian bank fraudsters guilty". BBC News. 2005-11-19. Retrieved 2013-11-24.
  7. ^ Glenny, Misha (May 2008). McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld - Misha Glenny - Google Books. ISBN 9780887848650. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
  8. ^ Schiller, Jon (2010-03-17). Financial Fraud - Jon Schiller - Google Books. ISBN 9781450533430. Retrieved 2013-11-24.
  9. ^ a b "Jailbreak plot may occur as influential persons detention ignites fear in Anambra". Herald.ng. 30 November 2016. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
  10. ^ Glenny, Misha (May 2008). McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld - Misha Glenny - Google Books. ISBN 9780887848650. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
  11. ^ a b c d "Africa | Bribery warning at '419' trial". BBC News. 2004-02-11. Retrieved 2013-11-24.
  12. ^ Lester Haines (20 July 2004). "$242m 419 scam trial collapses ; Nigerian judge claims 'no jurisdiction to hear it'". The Register. Retrieved 2021-05-04.
  13. ^ Glenny, Misha (May 2008). McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld - Misha Glenny - Google Books. ISBN 9780887848650. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
  14. ^ a b "Nigerians charged over scam that sank bank - World". www.smh.com.au. 2004-02-07. Retrieved 2013-11-24.
  15. ^ a b "Africa | Huge Nigeria scam trial collapses". BBC News. 2004-07-20. Retrieved 2013-11-24.
  16. ^ a b c Glenny, Misha (May 2008). McMafia: A Journey Through the Global Criminal Underworld - Misha Glenny - Google Books. ISBN 9780887848650. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
  17. ^ "OnlineNigeria.com - Nwude, prison warden face 5-count charge". Nm.onlinenigeria.com. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
  18. ^ "Africa | Jail for Nigerian bank fraudster". BBC News. 2005-07-16. Retrieved 2013-11-24.
  19. ^ "Nigeria jails woman in bank scam case - Africa | IOL News". IOL.co.za. 2005-07-17. Retrieved 2013-11-24.
  20. ^ "Bomb scare disrupts US$242-million fraud trial - News". JamaicaObserver.com. 2005-09-14. Archived from the original on 2016-08-10. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
  21. ^ "Fraudsters jailed after $240m scam". ZDNet. 2005-11-21. Retrieved 2013-11-24.
  22. ^ "IRIN Africa | NIGERIA: Financial crimes agency returns millions to Brazilian bank | Nigeria | Economy". Irinnews.org. 2005-11-23. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
  23. ^ "St. Petersburg Times - Google News Archive Search". news.google.com.
  24. ^ Peel, Michael (2008-10-31). "Nigeria anti-graft drive threatened". FT.com. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
  25. ^ a b "419 Case: Nwude Recovers Seized Assests". Nm.onlinenigeria.com. 2008-10-31. Retrieved 2013-11-21.
  26. ^ a b This Day (Lagos) (2015-05-08). "Nigeria: U.S.$242 Scam - Appeal Court Reserves Judgment On Nwude's Assets". allAfrica.com. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
  27. ^ a b Uche Atuma (23 November 2016). "Hoodlums visit death, mayhem on townspeople | The Sun News". Sunnewsonline.com. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
  28. ^ Gistmaster (2016-09-27). "Anambra State Police declares ex-419 kingpin Chief Emmanuel Nwude (Owelle Abagana) wanted – Gistmaster". Niyitabiti.net. Archived from the original on 2016-12-20. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
  29. ^ Millionaire’s detention ignites jailbreak fear in Anambra (2016-11-05). "Millionaire's detention ignites jailbreak fear in Anambra - INFORMATION NIGERIA". Informationng.com. Retrieved 2016-12-03.
  30. ^ "Ukpo/Abagana land dispute: Court grants Nwude, another bail". December 8, 2016.
  31. ^ "Anambra community selects, crowns new monarch". January 15, 2020.
  32. ^ Unini Chioma (25 February 2021). "I Didn't Know How $242m Got Into My Account, Brazilian Bank Scammer Nwude Tells Court". The Nigerian Lawyers. Retrieved 2021-05-04.